Divorce lawyers will tell you that Feb. 15 is one of their busiest days on their calendars. With Cupid’s favorite day on the horizon, we’d like to share with you some Valentine’s Day tips for divorce prevention, as compiled by the editors of Divorce Magazine. Earlier, we looked at six ways to enhance your marriage and preserve it for the long term. Today, we’ll continue with Valentine’s Day tips for divorce prevention.
Here’s part two of our report.
7. Absence makes the heart grow fonder (or, papa’s got his own bag)
In our last post we wrote about the importance of doing things together – mommy and daddy alone time. Equally important, counselors say, is having time independent of your spouse. She can take a scrapbooking course while her spouse plays hockey. She can play poker with the girls while he plays mahjong with the boys. It’s not necessary to love everything your partner loves, but it is crucial to allow them to pursue the hobbies that make them happy. You might even discover the added bonus that separate interests generates interest between you.
8. Let’s be friends
Psychology professor Dr. John Gottman, co-founder of the Gottman Relationship Institute, claims his research will predict with “91 percent accuracy” whether a couple will stay together. He stresses the key to marital happiness and success is friendship. Some of the most important aspects of this type of friendship, Gottman says, are knowing each other intimately, demonstrating affection and respect for each other on a daily basis, and genuinely enjoying each other’s company. Gottman based his findings on 25 years of marital research, which he presented in his book The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. He and his wife, Dr. Julie Schwartz Gottman lecture worldwide and conduct marriage and couples workshops from their Seattle, Wash. base.
9. Keep your marriage contract current
Los Angeles divorce lawyer Stacy D. Phillips says all the trimmings of Valentine’s Day – cards, chocolates, jewelry, flowers – are great, but to sustain a marriage, marriage-saving steps have to be taken. She advises couples to spell out the basics of their relationship in a yearly contract, and clarify them. “Most disputes that break up marriages are over sex and money,” she says. “Don’t let surprises lead to trouble. Marriage is like any other contract: its terms and conditions must be reviewed and updated. Right before an anniversary is a perfect time, and Valentine’s Day reminds you to be flexible and that you have to give to receive.”
10. Have I told you lately that I love you?
Don’t just think it. Say it. Over and over, every chance you get. This is especially important when you’re not feeling love, Gottman says. At these times, you have to “actively generate” it. Say those three little words. Perform loving gestures. Do the little things, random and sweet acts of kindness. Do small, recognizable actions. New York Times health blogger Tara Parker-Pope, in an interview recently on the online magazine Slate, talked about her book For Better: The Science of a Good Marriage. She explained that she found a lot of research that shows the main determinants of happy, sustained marriages are actually small, tangible things like having have at least five small, positive interactions like touching, smiling and paying a compliment for every negative one like sneering, eye rolling and withdrawal/shutting down. Parker-Pope also said how you treat your partner during the first three minutes of a fight tells a lot.
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